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FARC say treason led to hostage release

Latest update : 2008-07-12

Colombia's FARC rebel group said they were betrayed by their own men in the rescue of 15 hostages on July 2, including French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and three US defence contractors.

The rescue of hostages Ingrid Betancourt and 14 others succeeded only because their jungle captors were traitors, leftist Colombian rebels said Friday in their first official reaction to the audacious military operation.

"The escape of the 15 prisoners of war last Wednesday, July 2, was the direct result of the despicable conduct of (Gerardo Aguilar) 'Cesar' and (Alexander Farfan) 'Enrique,' who betrayed their revolutionary principles and the confidence placed in them," the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) said in a statement.

The Colombian government has said that French-Colombian citizen Betancourt, three American private contractors and 11 other hostages were grabbed out of the jungle in a bold raid that culminated from years of eavesdropping and duping on-the-ground rebel operatives.

The FARC statement, posted on their website Friday and signed by the organization's secretariat, also rejected international reports that the rebel organization was crumbling from within.

Last week's helicopter rescue, it said, was just an incident inherent to "any political and military confrontation where there are victories and reversals." The statement was dated July 5, 2008.

The guerrilla force said it was willing to pursue future hostage exchanges but warned the government against additional rescue missions or it would face "the consequences of its reckless and risky decision."

Both Aguilar and Farfan are being held in prison in Bogota. The Colombian government has yet to decide whether it will extradite the two to the United States for their role in the kidnapping of the three US contractors.

Lawyers for the two rebels stated that neither one received any money for the operation, and that they had been duped by the Colombian military commanders who had posed as guerrillas to get the hostages out.

The United States, France and Colombia have denied that they paid for the hostages' release.

Date created : 2008-07-12

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